The calendar below, created by Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark, is an excellent way to keep on top of religious high holy days and festivals as they go by. It is especially useful for those in interfaith vocations who need this information on a day-to-day basis.
TIO is cooperating with another “working” religious calendar project being led by Read the Spirit. It extends what we usually mean by religious calendar to include important civic holidays. It identifies major religious holidays more than a year in advance. Most important, it features stories about what these many religious festival events are all about – what they mean, the important stories, the food associated, and how particular events are celebrated. Your own stories of religious holidays, whatever your tradition, are welcomed at the site. Check it out!
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The Iroquois Midwinter Ceremony, , in which old fires are extinguished and new fires are lit, and the Hopi Holy Cycle, in which the changing of the seasons and the nature of the Hopi sacred universe are celebrated, begin in January and February, but the dates of observance vary by tribe. This month is also known as Buxwlaks or the season of blowing needles in aboriginal spirituality, in which the wind knocks loose the foliage of frozen evergreens. It marks the approach of the new year
March and April mark the season of the Eagle Dances, when people of the Arizona Pueblo tribes dance to dramatize their communities’ relationship with the Sky-World. This month is also known as Xsaak, the season when candlefish swarm and members of the Nisga’a tribes catch these fish, dry them, and render them into oil for lamps.
Saturday, January 17
World Religion Day – Bahá’í
A celebration of the teachings of unity found in all religious traditions. The observance begins at sundown.
Sunday, January 18
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins – Christianity
Monday, January 19
Martin Luther King, Jr., Day – USA national holiday
A day remembering the life and legacy of the American civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Sultán – Bahá’í
The first day of Sultán (Sovereignty), the seventeenth month of the Bahá’í year.
Saturday, January 24
Vasanta Panchami – Hinduism
A North Indian celebration associated with Saraswati, the goddess of learning, and with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
Sunday, January 25
Memorial of Hōnen Shonin – Buddhism
Anniversary of the death in 1212 C.E. of the founder of the Jōdo Shū (Pure Land) school of Mahāyāna Buddhism in Japan.
Friday, January 30
Jashne Sadeh – Zoroastrianism
A celebration of the discovery of fire by King Hashang of the Peshdadian dynasty.
Saturday, January 31
Birth of Gurū Har Rai – Sikhism
A celebration of the birth of the seventh of the Sikh gurūs [1630 – 1661 C.E.], according to the Nanakshahi calendar.
Sunday, February 1
Triodion begins –Christianity (Eastern churches)
This day marks the beginning of the ten weeks preceding Holy Pascha (Easter). The term Triodion refers to the book containing the liturgies for the worship services during this time period.
Four Chaplains Sunday –Interfaith
A commemoration of four U.S. Army chaplains—Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Rev. George L. Fox, Fr. John P. Washington, and Rev. Clark V. Poling—who died while saving soldiers from drowning when their troop transport ship, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, was torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat in 1943. The four chaplains are remembered for their courage and their spirit of interfaith collaboration in service to humanity.
Monday, February 2
Presentation of Jesus in the Temple –Christianity
Commemorates Mary and Joseph’s presentation of the child Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, as required by Mosaic law.
Imbolc [also known as the Feast of Torches or Lughnassad] – Wicca
A celebration of beginning growth and the divine generative powers (i.e., the Goddess nurturing her young Son) from which physical and spiritual harvests will come, Imbolc is often an initiatory period.
Tuesday, February 3
Setsunbun-sai – Shintō
A family celebration of the end of winter; beans are thrown into rooms of a house for good luck, with the shout, “Devils out, Fortune in!”
Tu B’Shevat – Judaism
A joyous celebration of the coming spring, including the planting of trees and the conservation of fruits native to Israel, as well as special meals where Jews eat the seven fruits of the land (wheat and barley; grapes; figs; pomegranates; olives; and honey). The festival begins at sundown.
Saturday, February 7
Beginning of the eighteenth month of the Bahá’í year, the name “Mulk” means “dominion.”
Sunday, February 8
Some Mahāyāna Buddhist traditions mark this date as the anniversary of the historical Buddha’s death in ca. 486 B.C.E. and his subsequent entrance into enlightenment or Nirvana. Other Buddhist schools mark this event on February 15th (see below).
Saturday, February 14
Valentine’s Day – Western Christianity
A celebration of love originally connected to the Roman Christian martyr who died in 269 C.E.
Sunday, February 15
Nirvana Day – Buddhism
In northern Buddhist traditions, this day marks the anniversary of the historical Buddha’s death in ca. 486 B.C.E. and his subsequent entrance into enlightenment or Nirvana. In southern Buddhist traditions, the Buddha’s death is commemorated during Visakha
Tuesday, February 17
A night devoted to the worship of the god Shiva, whose dance creates and destroys and recreates the world; it is marked by vigils and fasting.
Wednesday, February 18
Ash Wednesday – Christianity (Western churches)
The beginning of Lent, a forty-day period (excluding Sundays) in which Christians pray, repent, fast and reflect on Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem. It is a preparatory period for Holy Week and Easter; on this day, believers often receive an ashen cross on their foreheads to mark their repentance and mortality.
Losar [Tibetan New Year] – Buddhism (Western churches)
Celebrating the beginning of the year 2142 in the Tibetan calendar.
Thursday, February 19
Chinese / Vietnamese / Korean New Year – Buddhism / Confucianism / Taoism
The first day after the new moon is a religious and cultural festival for Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese persons, marking the first day of the year 4713, the Year of the Sheep.
Sunday, February 22
Cheesefare Sunday [Forgiveness Sunday] – Christianity (Eastern churches)
This feast marks the last day of eating dairy products prior to Holy Pascha (also known as Easter). The Great Fast or Great Lent begins at sundown and is marked by forty days of vegetarian fasting, intense prayer, and almsgiving in preparation for Holy Week. The following day is known as Clean Monday.
Thursday, February 26
Ayyám-i-Há – Bahá’í [through March 1]
Starting at sundown, this festival marks the beginning of the intercalary days for festivities, gift giving, and charitable actions.
Sunday, March 1
Ayyám-i-Há ends – Bahá’í
Ending of the intercalary days for festivities, gift giving, and charitable actions.
Orthodox Sunday – Christianity (Eastern churches)
A celebration of the restoration of icons, which had been banned from Byzantine churches in the seventh century. The Christian empress Theodora ordered them restored in 843 C.E.
Monday, March 2
‘Alá – Bahá’í
The beginning of the nineteenth and final month, meaning “loftiness,” and also of a 19-day fast in preparation for Naw Rúz [see March 21]. Adult believers in good health abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk.
Wednesday, March 4
Eve of Purim – Judaism
A celebration of the Jews’ rescue from an evil plot to destroy them while they were living in Persia, the events of which are recorded in the Hebrew biblical book of Esther. The holiday includes reading the Megillah (the scroll of Esther), exchanging gifts, and special pastries called hamantashen.
Thursday, March 5
Magha Puja Day [Dharma Day] – Buddhism
In the Theravada Buddhist tradition, this full moon day of the third lunar month marks the historical Buddha’s sermon at Veruvana Monastery in the city of Rajagaha, where he spoke to 1250 en-lightened monks who were ordained by him.
Friday, March 6
This festival is one of Hinduism’s most popular celebrations. People throw colored powder or spray colored water to celebrate episodes in the life of the god Krishna.
Hola Mohallah – Sikhism
A three-day festival instituted by the tenth Sikh gurū, Gobind Singh, as a time for military pre-paredness exercises, Hola Mohallah now is celebrated with mock battles, music competitions, and festivities.
Saturday, March 14
New Year’s Day – Sikhism
In the Nanakshahi calendar, this day is the beginning of the year 547.
Memorial of Shan-tao (Zendō) – Buddhism
Anniversary of the death of a Chinese Pure Land Buddhist priest who died in 681 C.E. He taught that enlightenment could occur simply through repetition of the name of Amitabha or Amida Buddha (nianfo or nembutsu), and is honored as the Fifth Patriarch of that Buddhist school.
Monday, March 16
Ghambar Hamaspathmaedem, Fravardegan, or Muktad – Zoroastrianism (continues until March 20)
A celebration of the creation of human beings and a commemoration of souls who have died. Prayers are offered to the fravashis (the divine spark within each human, which lives forever), asking for their blessings and protection.
Tuesday, March 17
Saint Patrick’s Day – Western Christianity
A commemoration of the missionary bishop who evangelized Ireland in the fifth century C.E.
Friday, March 20 spring equinox
Spring Ohigon – Buddhism
For Buddhists who practice in the Jōdo Shinshū [Japanese Pure Land] tradition, this is a special time to listen to the teaching of the Buddha and meditate on the perfection of enlightenment as lived in the Six Perfections or Paramitas (generosity, morality, wisdom, honesty, endeavor, and patience).
Friday, March 20 (continued)
Shunki-sorei-sai – Shintō
The time of the spring memorial service, when ancestors’ spirits are revered at home altars and gravesites are cleaned and purified.
A time to mark the divine goddess’s blanketing of the Earth with fertility as the god stretches and grows to maturity, manifested in the reawakening of seeds within the Earth as they are touched by divine love.
Spring Feast – Native American spirituality
A day to mark the coming and going of seasons and to honor planting through songs, stories, and prayer.
Saturday, March 21
Naw Rúz – Bahá’í
Marking the beginning of the year 172 of the Bahá’í era, and the beginning of the first month of the year, known as Bahá or “splendor.”
Navruz [Now Ruz or Norooz] – Zoroastrianism
The beginning of the Zoroastrian new year, 1385 AY or 3753 AZ in the Fasli seasonal calendar, which also celebrates the renewal of the world and the creation of fire (which symbolizes righteousness). Zarathustra, the founder of Zoroastrianism, received his revelation on this day.
The New Year’s Day celebration for Hindus of the Deccan Plateau in central and southern India, which traditionally includes eating food that has six distinct tastes, to symbolize that life is a mixture of different experiences such as sadness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise, and happiness.
Wednesday, March 25
Feast of the Annunciation – Christianity
This festival marks the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary of Nazareth and Mary’s faithful response to God’s plan by consenting to be Jesus’ mother.
Thursday, March 26
Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra.
Saturday, March 28
A celebration in honor of the birth of Rama, the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu. Hindus read the Ramayana, a Hindu epic, and religious dances called Ramalila are performed to depict scenes from his life.
Sunday, March 29
Palm Sunday – Christianity (Western churches)
The remembrance of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, when crowds spread palm fronds on the ground as Jesus rode into the city. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.
If you want more information about any of these holy days, please contact UCSF Medical Center Spiritual Care Services at 415-353-1941 (Rev. Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark)
Our thanks to the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, the Multifaith Action Society of British Columbia (Canada), BBC’s Religion Website, Peel Schools District Board (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), the Arizona State University Provost’s Office, the NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad, and www.interfaithcalendar.org
To subscribe to this calendar and sync it with your Google, Outlook, or iCal calendars, visit http://ucsfspiritcare.org and select the “Resources” menu